Showing posts with label Church of England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Church of England. Show all posts

Monday, January 25, 2016


The Anglican Communion is a family of churches with roots in Anglicanism and the Church of England.  Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is "first among equals" of the primates (chief bishops) of Anglican churches around the world.  He is also the leader of the Anglican Church in England. 

After a recent gathering of Anglican primates in Canterbury, England, Archbishop Welby published a reflection on the meeting.
As leaders of the family of Anglican churches in a world so racked by violence and fear, we gathered in Canterbury with much to share and discuss – from climate change to religiously motivated violence.  A significant part of the week was spent discussing how – or even if – we could remain together as the Anglican Communion in the light of changes made by our brothers and sisters in The Episcopal Church (the historic Anglican Communion church in the USA and some other countries) to their understanding of marriage. (My emphasis)
The present policy in the Episcopal Church is to welcome all members of the church to all the sacramental rites of the church, including Christian marriage for faithful, committed couples of the same sex.  The question as to whether Christian marriage always consists in the lifetime union of one man and one woman would seem to me to have been settled by acceptance of divorce by Anglican churches.  Jesus himself never spoke of same sex marriage, but he spoke clearly about divorce.  If it was possible for Anglicans to overcome their scruples about divorce, then why has the union of faithful couples of the same sex become so serious a matter as to provoke threats of schism before the primates gathering?  As it was, the primate of the Anglican Church in Uganda, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, left the meeting early to protest the failure of a vote for a resolution asking the primates of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to leave the meeting.  Later in the meeting, sanctions were imposed on the Episcopal Church. 
We remain committed to being together, albeit we asked that TEC, while attending and playing a full part in our meetings and all discussions, will not represent the Anglican Communion to other churches and should not be involved in standing committees for a period of three years. During this time we also asked that they not vote on matters of doctrine or how we organise ourselves.
So. The Episcopal Church was pushed to the margins of the Anglican Communion for instituting policies and practices that include justice and equality for all its members.  Archbishop Welby continues.
There will be wounds for each other, but we must repent of wounding others who are especially vulnerable, whether they are LGBTI people or those menaced by religiously-motivated violence, terrorism and exile. Some, of course, will fall in many categories.

But that unity is also joyful and astonishing, renewing and nourishing – because it is unity in love for Jesus Christ, whose single family we are, often argumentative, sometimes cruel (which is deeply wrong) but created by God and belonging to each other irrevocably.
From my vantage in the Episcopal Church, it's impossible for me to view the "unity" that came from the primates gathering as "joyful and astonishing, renewing and nourishing". What a strange way to comment on a policy which wounds and continues to discriminate against the Episcopal Church for practicing justice and equality.

Also, since marriages of couples of the same sex remain forbidden in the Church of England, how is it possible for Justin Welby to imagine that LGTB persons and their supporters in his own church take joy, renewal, or nourishment from the outcome of the primates meeting?  Pain and astonishment perhaps at the continuing injustice which wounds the members of the archbishop's own church, but there is no joy.  That's not to mention LGTB members of Anglican churches in other countries in Africa and the Global South, where persecution and discrimination are much more severe, who look to Christians in the West for help and support.

Does Justin Welby himself believe what he says? Does he expect LGTB Anglicans and members of TEC to believe what he says? The archbishop apologizes for marginalizing groups of people, but he does not change his ways.  How is his apology in any way sincere when he continues to wound and marginalize? The marginalized will believe him when he practices justice and equality.

In the end, church policies affect real people, which I wonder if Anglican church leaders forget, or, if they remember, they quickly put such thoughts out of their minds.  Since I have gay and lesbian friends in the Church of England, I care very much about policies and practices that not only hurt my friends and many others but also result in destructive, long-lasting consequences in their lives.

Photo of Justin Welby from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, December 19, 2014


Just to be clear, I knew Richard before he was famous, or, as certain bishops in the Church of England would say, infamous. He and Ricardo look so very happy following the conversion of their civil partnership into marriage.
Mr Haggis believes that his struggle to find employment in the Church is entirely attributable to his decision to write an article for The Guardian in 2005, in which he criticised the Bishops' stance on same-sex relationships among the clergy: specifically, the questions to be asked of those entering civil partnerships. He has suffered a "very long period of depression", but has found solace in celebrating at Fairacres Convent, in Oxford.
Richard and I became Facebook friends through mutual friends some time ago. Last year, when I visited England, I met Richard, who had helped me arrange to stay in a guest room in Christ Church College, Oxford. During my stay of several days in the city, he very kindly showed me around Christ Church College and around the city of Oxford. Since I am, as they say, une femme d'un certain âge, he paced our explorations within the limits of my energy and ability in a most gracious manner. To this day, I remain grateful to him and credit him for my most pleasant stay in the city. 

My friend misses his priestly ministry immensely, and it breaks my heart that the church refuses to allow him to use his pastoral and preaching gifts in active ministry. It is very much the church's loss.

Bishop Alan Wilson is greatly to be admired for his courage in speaking up for justice and compassion, and I am proud to call him friend. He is the model of a pastoral bishop.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Thanks to Colin Coward at Changing Attitude for the transcript of an interview with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby by Sarah Julian for BBC Radio Nottingham.  The interviewer asked questions about the recent civil marriage of Church of England Canon Jeremy Pemberton and Laurence Cunnington, which went against the rules laid out in "House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage".  The document states in bold type that despite the fact that same sex marriage is legal in England, Church of England clergy are not permitted to enter into civil marriages.
SJ  So what happens to Canon Pemberton?

ABC  “Well, the Bishop of Lincoln .. he’s actually in Lincoln Diocese .. the Bishop of Lincoln has commented on that and I’ve said all I’m going to say on that, really; I’ve commented on that a great deal recently and I don’t intend to add to it.”

SJ  We’ve not spoken to you here on BBC Radio Nottingham, though, and he actually does live in our diocese and does some work in our diocese so I’d appreciate if you could, you know, reiterate that, then …

ABC  “No, as I’ve said, I’ve said on nationally and it’s been in all the press and on the radio and, and I’m just not going to add to it.”

SJ  So you won’t repeat what you’ve said already?

ABC  “Er, no.

SJ  What will happen in future when more and more priests either do this or bless a gay wedding themselves?

ABC  “Well, the Church is heavily involved at the moment in discussions about policy, organised discussions which will take, er, involving loads and loads of people from all over the world and, er, all kinds of activities and that’s going to take quite a long time to do and as I say, I don’t want to preempt those discussion so I’m not going to comment further on that.”

SJ  But you must have an idea of what the Church should do in these instances ‘cus it’s already happening, you must have had a plan for what will happen to priests who do this.

ABC  “Well, that’s been announced publicly, it’s on the record, erm, but errrr, as I say, I’m not intending to add to what I’ve said previously.”

SJ  And if priests do break the rules, are they going to be kicked out of the Church of England?

ABC  “There’s processes for, errr, what happens and it’s very much down to local bishops and umm, yeah, that’s, err, you need to ask the relevant bishop about that.”

SJ  But you’re the head of the Church of England, they must come to you and ask you those questions, what do you tell them?

ABC  “Well, actually the Church of England doesn’t work that way, we don’t have an Anglican Pope, we operate on a collegial, collective basis and errrr, it’s very much shared, errr, decision making, and there was a paper published at the end of errr January on that.”

SJ  How do you think God feels about gay marriage?

ABC  “Well as I’ve said I’ve commented an awful lot about it, I’m not going to add further to what I’ve said already.”

SJ  But how do you feel about the current situation and the turmoil that this is in and how this looks to the rest of society?

ABC  “One of the things … there’s always disagreements in Church, there’s always been disagreements in Church, it’s, it’s varied over the centuries on different issues; there’s always been disagreement. One of the key things in the Church is that the Church is a family, it’s not an institution, it’s not a political party, erm, it.. it.. the way we operate is that we are bound together by the love of Christ, and in the way we disagree we have to express that love to each other.”

SJ  We have two women here in Nottinghamshire who we’ve spoken to, they are planning to get married, the two of them. One of them actually works for the Church and she wants to become a priest. She feels that she’s had to choose between getting married and her calling to the Church. Is there any hope for her, or how does that make you feel?

ABC  “Well, I can only repeat what I’ve said before, that we’re, there’s a lot of discussion going on, err, we’re listening very, very carefully to people, but I don’t want to preempt that by adding further to the numerous things I’ve said on all kinds of media, including the BBC before.”

SJ  But not here in Nottinghamshire, and these are Nottinghamshire people who …

ABC  “I rather suspect that the BBC does reach in Nottingham, not only through the local radio.”
Kudos to Sarah Julian for not letting the - err - ABC get away with his - err - avoidance tactics. Most interviewers do.  The ABC's responses are beyond pathetic.  What message does Justin send when he refuses even to repeat his own words?  Not everyone in England pays attention each time he speaks.  Is he embarrassed by his words?  If this is the best he can do, perhaps he might consider refusing to grant interviews.

You may wonder about my excessive interest in the affairs of the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and you may even call it an obsession if you like, but I have friends in England whose lives are already gravely and adversely affected by the words and direction of the leadership of the English church.  As a fellow Anglican, I care about them and all the others who pay the price for the delay of justice and equality for all members of the church, clergy and laity - the delay seemingly without end.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


A week or so ago, I watched the film Philomena. What a lovely, lovely movie. Judi Dench is superb and Steve Coogan is no slacker. He more than holds his own with Dame Judi, and that's no small feat. The chemistry between the two actors, Coogan, who plays an English journalist, and Dench, as Philomena, an Irish woman, is amazing when they come together to search for her lost son.  If you didn't see the film, which is taken from a true story, when it played in the theaters, I highly recommend you watch online or find a copy of the DVD.  As well as acting in the movie, Coogan co-wrote the script with Jeff Pope from the book of the same name, so it is truly his baby.

Be sure to watch the bonuses, the interviews with the real Philomena and actors, Judy Dench and Steve Coogan, that are included in the DVD.  Philomena Lee is quite a woman, and the film appears to have been a labor of love for the script writers and the actors.  In the interview, Coogan speaks of Philomena with true fondness and respect.

As Coogan, who played the journalist, Martin Sixsmith, was being interviewed, I thought of the present discussion and controversy over whether England is a Christian country initiated by Prime Minister David Cameron's speech at his Easter reception at Downing street. In the interview, Coogan, who is a lapsed Roman Catholic, notes that he and Pope, with permission from Sixsmith, took the liberty of making him a lapsed Catholic, though...
He's Church of England, so Protestant, which in England, basically, means athiest. (Laughter) You go to church, but you don't believe any of that stuff, you know?
Not the final word, I'm sure. 

Coogan is also a comedian, and, though the film is not a comedy, his comedic touch lightens what is, in fact, a quite moving and serious film.  One phrase spoken by Sixsmith refers to the nuns at the the convent in Rosecrea, Ireland, as, "The Sisters of Little Mercy".

Before I returned the DVD, I watched and thoroughly enjoyed the film one more time.

Monday, February 17, 2014


From Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby's address to General Synod:
We all know that perfect love casts out fear. We know it although we don’t often apply it. We mostly know that perfect fear casts out love. In any institution or organisation, the moment that suspicion reigns and the assumption that everything is zero sum becomes dominant (that is to say that some else’s gain must be my loss, we can’t both flourish) that institution will be increasingly dominated by fear. It is an old problem in game theory. The moment at which something is zero sum, players stop looking so much at their objectives and increasingly look at each other. The more they look at each other, the more they are dominated by fear and the less they are able to focus on their objectives.

The Church of England is not a closed system, nor is the Anglican Communion and most certainly nor is the Church catholic and universal. It is not a closed system because God is involved and where he is involved there is no limit to what can happen, and no limit to human flourishing. His abundant love overwhelms us when we make space to flood into our own lives, into institutions and systems.
From the Church of England House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage:
20. The 2005 pastoral statement said that it would not be right to produce an authorized public liturgy in connection with the registering of civil partnerships and that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who registered civil partnerships. The House did not wish, however,  to interfere with the clergy's pastoral discretion about when more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of the circumstances.   The College made clear on 27 January that, just as the Church of England's doctrine of marriage remains the same, so its pastoral and liturgical practice also remains unchanged.

21. The same approach as commended in the 2005 statement should therefore apply to couples who enter same-sex marriage, on the assumption that any prayer will be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the church's teaching and their reasons for departing from it. Services of blessing should not be provided. Clergy should respond pastorally and sensitively in other ways.
The letter from the House of Bishops is the kind of doublespeak that is soul-destroying to LGBT church members and to those who support their full inclusion in the life of the church. As a fellow Anglican, I read the letter with shock and dismay.  I can only imagine the scope of the fear within the House of Bishops that would lead them to approve sending out such a letter. 

Not only will same sex marriages services be banned in the Church of England, but clergy will not be allowed to "provide services of blessing" to same sex couples who marry but will rather be restricted to "an informal kind of prayer", preceded by a pastoral discussion about why they must follow the church's teaching and settle for something less.  Like Tina Turner, I ask, "What's love got to do with it?"  How will the rules allow for flourishing of LGBT persons in the church?

But, as Archbishop Welby says in his address, "... because God is involved and where he is involved there is no limit to what can happen...", who knows but that when the prayers are said, God will do as God chooses and - Gasp! - provide a blessing, despite the ban by the church.  The phrase itself, "an informal kind of prayer", is a shriveled manner of speaking about invoking the God of abundant and overflowing love. It seems to me idolatrous to attempt to limit the blessings of God for those the House of Bishops deems not quite worthy to receive the full blessing.
Episcopal priest, Tobias Haller, wonders why the English bishops did not include a reference to Article XXXII of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England, rather than The Lambeth Conference of 1998.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God's Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.
In 2005, The Guardian published an article titled "Stop the Denial"  by Richard Haggis, a priest serving in a London parish:
Many of us long for the sort of union that could be marked by a public ceremony and decent and proper civil rights (from which the bishops have sought to exempt us for too long through their powerful position in the House of Lords). I very much hope to use the new law. I shall not ask permission and I shall not promise to be celibate. If they want to sack me they can, but they must own up to the kind of people they are.

To grow up as a church we need to stop pretending and stop lying. There are hundreds of gay priests, archdeacons and bishops. This is a fact. Those who can't accept it need to leave. Those gay clergy do far more for the Good News of God than the ranting nutters who would reject them. But we need help and support. We need to be looked after. And that has not been happening for a very long time. Until we learn to do so, we have no right to be taken seriously by thoughtful people.
And sacked he was, and Richard has not served as a priest in the church in the eight years since he wrote the article.  What has changed since 2005?  Same sex marriage will be legal in England, but the church will not ordain persons in same sex marriages, and clergy in same sex relationships are forbidden, in bold text, to contract a civil marriage. 
27.  The House is not, therefore, willing for those who are in a same sex marriage to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry. In addition it considers that it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church's teaching in their lives.
How long will the blatant hypocrisy continue? Whom do the bishop's believe they are fooling?

Saturday, November 30, 2013


My questions missed the anniversary of the consecration of Bishop Samuel Seabury on November 14 by a couple of weeks. In 1784, the Rev Samuel Seabury, rector of St Peter's Church, Westchester, NY, was consecrated first Bishop for the Church of Connecticut by the Right Rev. Robert Kilgour, Bishop of Aberdeen and Primus of Scotland, the Right Rev. Arthur Petrie, Bishop of Ross and Moray, and the Right Rev. John Skinner, Coadjutor Bishop of Aberdeen, Scotland, in Bishop Skinner's private chapel.

Would it be accurate to say that the Scottish Episcopal Church is the mother church of the Episcopal Church in the US, rather than the Church of England? The Church of England is the mother church of the Scottish Episcopal Church, so would the Church of England then be the grandmother church of TEC in the US?

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby's statement on the vote to allow women bishops in the Church of England:
Today's overwhelming vote demonstrates the widespread desire of the Church of England to move ahead with ordaining women as bishops, and at the same time enabling those who disagree to flourish. There is some way to go, but we can be cautiously hopeful of good progress. The tone of the debate was strikingly warm and friendly, and a great debt of gratitude is owed to the Steering Committee for the draft legislation, and to those who facilitated the meetings so effectively. The more we learn to work together the more effective the church will be in meeting the huge challenges of spiritual renewal, and above all service to our communities, so as to both proclaim and demonstrate the reality of the love of Christ.
Am I alone in detecting a bit of dissonance in the archbishop's acknowledgement of "the widespread desire of the Church of England to move ahead with ordaining women as bishops" paired with "and at the same time enabling those who disagree to flourish"? His choice of the word "flourish" for those who disagree with the vote seems an odd choice of terminology. I expect I will never understand archbishopspeak.  The word mealy-mouthed comes to mind.  I don't know what Justin Welby is trying to say. By guarding his words so carefully, he ends up making no sense at all to me. Is a mandatory crash course in archbishopspeak (aka obfuscation) required after appointment as ABC?

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham in the Church of England, responds to a letter he received in his post titled "Letter to a Saloon Bar Moralist".
Jesus also taught us to beware the leaven of the Pharisees within and among ourselves. Indeed, whilst he said absolutely nothing about what we call homosexuality (hardly surprising, since the concept was not defined until 1892) he said an enormous amount about using the law to lay burdens on others harder than they could bear, not treating others as you would have them treat you, failing to see the human being in need for the child of God they are, erecting the small matters of the law into crucial shibboleths that confound the purpose of the law, thinking that searching the scriptures in itself will bring life, supposing that people were made for the sabbath not the sabbath for people, and so I could go on. St John tells us that it is futile to think that we are loving the God we have never seen, if we do not love towards the person we have seen.
Read the letter in its entirety.  As I said, it is excellent.

Monday, March 25, 2013


He said this was because some felt the blessings were “logical, natural and compassionate”.

His comments come amid tensions within the Church over its opposition to the Government’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage.
The newly enthroned Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has underlined his opposition to the plans.

He said: “At the moment the policy is, 'Don’t ask, don’t tell’. We all know that in many dioceses there are one or two places these gay blessings have been happening. It’s hypocrisy, although it is understandable.

He added: “It is very difficult when an institution is too frightened of its own shadow to engage with the real world.

“True leadership is about coping with reality. On the ground, parish churches often deal with these things really well.”
From across the pond, Alan's courageous words continue to inspire and bring the fresh air of clarity to the discussion of blessing same-sex partnerships in the Church of England.  We find no mincing of words, no muddying the waters, no wishy-washy attempts to straddle the gap, but rather an expression of simple pastoral care and compassion for gay couples and a plea for the church to end the hypocrisy.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


There you have it. Same-sex marriage is not a particularly controversial issue for the vast majority of the members of the Anglican Communion; their minds are on other things.  Thus the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England must speak against the passage of the bill making its way through Parliament which legalizes same-sex civil marriage in Britain.  I guess there's a kind of logic there, but I can't quite make it out.  Of course, the Church of England is the established church, which complicates the matter in ways I don't fully understand, but I don't see why the opinions of all the members of the churches in the Anglican Communion should affect legislation on civil marriage in Britain.

What about LGTB persons in England?  What does the Primate of All England offer in the way of pastoral care to same-sex couples who are members of the church and would like to be joined in a civil marriage ceremony?  Little in the way of empathy or compassion thus far.  An awareness that marriage equality is not simply an issue, but that the lives of real people will be affected by the legislation seems to be missing from the archbishop's commentary.  Let's hope the path is uphill from here.

Note: The interview took place before the vote in favor of the equal marriage bill in the House of Commons.  


As I've followed the struggle for marriage equality for LGTB persons, I see many similarities with the Civil Rights movement for equality for African-Americans here in the United States, which is not at all surprising as the fight for justice for any oppressed group will have parallels with the struggles of other groups.  Here in the US, the movement toward same-sex marriage equality is now state by state.  Gay marriage is legal in nine states: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont,  Washington, and the District of Columbia, with Illinois likely to follow soon.

Thanks to Colin Coward's real-time Facebook reports, I followed the debate in Britain's House of Commons on the bill to allow same-sex civil marriage in Britain preceding the overwhelming vote in favor.  The established Church of England's opposition to the bill, including a statement by the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is a puzzlement, but I've addressed the matter briefly elsewhere.

Thanks to Kelvin Holdsworth for the link to quotes and a video of one of the most eloquent speeches in favor of the bill by MP David Lammy from Tottenham.

Separate is not equal. 

But there are still those that say that this is all unnecessary.

“Why do we need Gay Marriage when we already have Civil Partnerships”, they say.

“They are the same - separate but equal”, they claim.

Let me speak frankly.

“Separate but equal” is a fraud.

 “Separate but equal” is the language that tried to push Rosa Parks to the back of the bus.

“Separate but equal” is the motif that determined that black and white could not possibly drink from the same water fountain, eat at the same table or use the same toilets.

 “Separate but equal” are the words that justified sending black children to different schools from their white peers – schools that would fail them and condemn them to a life of poverty.

It is an excerpt from the phrasebook of the segregationists and the racists.

It is the same statement, the same ideas and the same delusion that we borrowed in this country to say that women could vote – but not until they were 30.

It is the same naivety that gave made my dad a citizen in 1956 but refused to condemn the landlords that proclaimed “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs”.

It entrenched who we were, who our friends could be and what our lives could become.

This was not “Separate but equal” but “Separate AND discriminated”,

 “Separate AND oppressed”.

 “Separate AND browbeaten”.

 “Separate AND subjugated”.

Separate is NOT equal, so let us be rid of it.

Because as long as there is one rule for us and another for them, we allow the barriers to acceptance to stand unchallenged.
Brilliant, heartfelt, and quite moving. 

Here is the link to the entire original speech that David Lammy intended to give but for the four-minute limit on backbench speeches.

UPDATE: France seems to have crossed a major hurdle in its progress toward the approval same-sex marriages. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


The good news:
Parliament took a historic step towards embracing full equality for gay people when MPs voted on Tuesday overwhelmingly in favour of equal marriage at the end of a charged Commons debate that exposed the deep rift over David Cameron's modernising agenda at the heart of the Conservative party.

The 225-vote majority, greeted with rare applause in the public gallery, was marred for the prime minister, who suffered a humiliating rebuff when more than half of the Conservative parliamentary party declined to support the government on an issue he has personally invested in.
The Church of England lags behind the secular government and the people of the country in its response to "Equal Civil Marriage". 
The Church of England cannot support the proposal to enable ―all couples, regardless of their gender, to have a civil marriage ceremony.

Such a move would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history.
Note that the church's response is to civil marriage.  If, as is likely, the bill passes in the House of Lords and goes to the PM, no authority will force any church or clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages, but churches that wish to do so may move forward.  In fact, as an added protection, the law would ban the Church of England and the Church in Wales from performing same-sex marriages.

The statement that "the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman" is "enshrined in human institutions throughout history" is nonsense.  Throughout history, marriage has had many different expressions, even in the Scriptures.

The further explanation of the church's position includes the following:
The Church‟s understanding of marriage

1. In common with almost all other Churches, the Church of England holds, as a matter of  doctrine and derived from the teaching of Christ himself, that marriage in general – and not just the marriage of Christians – is, in its nature, a lifelong union of one man with one woman.
As Molly Ivins would say, "You can't make this stuff up!"  The church allows divorce.  Maybe the explanation should be corrected to only one man and one woman at a time.  I favor the acceptance by the church of divorce and remarriage in certain circumstances for pastoral reasons, but to use the teaching of Jesus on marriage as a "lifelong union of one man with one woman" in order to condemn same-sex marriage, about which Jesus never said a word, is less than honest and not at all pastoral.

The new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby weighed in with his opinion:
Speaking about the vote, the 57-year-old archbishop said: "I stand, as I have always stood over the last few months, with the statement I made at the announcement of my appointment, which is that I support the Church of England's position on this.

"We have made many statements about this and I stick with that."
What else could he say?  I guess...  Archbishop Justin said earlier, he will "listen to the voice of the LGBT communities and examine my own thinking."  One can only hope he has not given up on the plan.  The position of Archbishop of Canterbury is a bully pulpit.

Friday, January 11, 2013


A medieval ceremony has begun the process of the Rt Revd Justin Welby becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

The College of Canons of Canterbury Cathedral has unanimously elected Bishop Justin Welby as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. 

The 35-strong College of Canons, made up of senior clergy and lay people from the Diocese of Canterbury, met at Canterbury Cathedral's 14th-century Chapter House to take part in the formality, which dates back more than 1000 years.
Splendid!  And if the new Archbishop of Canterbury succeeds in bringing the Church of England into the 21st century, that would be a remarkable feat of valor, indeed.  Though certain of the membership will resist, and some will insist on staying behind, Justin Welby would be a hero in the eyes of many.

Seriously, the new Archbishop of Canterbury needs our prayers, because he undertakes a very difficult job.
Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon Archbishop Justin and the bishops, clergy, and congregations committed to his charge in the Church of England, the healthful Spirit of thy grace: and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ.  Amen.
H/T to Andrew Gerns at The Lead.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I have an irritated, streaming eye, so I played hookey from church today.  In addition, it was raining, so altogether too much to overcome, though I was sorry to miss on the feast of the Epiphany.  Never fear.  I shall say my prayers here at home.  

I read Bishop Alan Wilson's excellent blog post on the Church of England as Kafka land, which I urge you to read. I am mystified by the latest anonymous press release from the powers in the Church of England, which basically changes nothing, except that now if a gay candidate for the episcopacy promises not to have sex and to repent of ever "practicing" gay sex, he can be a bishop. Do I have that right? What really has changed?
All that has changed is a grudging recognition of civil partnerships for celibates. The headlines have, however, stimulated vigorous kicking and screaming by people. Lynette Burrows on yesterdays PM programme (18 minutes in) shared with the nation her “instinct that people like me have which is revulsion” about gay people. The role of the Church, she implies, is to validate her instinctive disgust, which she imagines is shared by everybody.
Giles Fraser's response on BBC Saturday PM was very good.  You can hear the shock and outrage in his voice.  Lynette Burrows commentary was truly ugly.  If you wish to listen, the program is available for six days only.

Part of Giles' response on the BBC program is incorporated into his opinion column in the Guardian.
"So, bishop, are you having sex with your partner?" I can't imagine anyone asking that question with a straight face. And what constitutes sex anyway? Snogging? Toe-sucking? (Is there a Church of England position on this?) Yet the new line from the C of E – ludicrously, that gay men in civil partnerships can be bishops as long as they refrain from sex (or to put it another way, we'll have gay bishops as long as they are not really gay) raises the question: how on earth will the authorities ever find out? A CCTV in every bedroom? Chastity belts in fetching liturgical colours? No, the only way the bedroom police could ever really know is if they ask and play a moral guilt trip about honesty on those being interrogated. So do sexually active gay priests or bishops have a moral responsibility to tell the truth? Actually, I think not. I'd go further: in this situation, they have a moral responsibility to lie.
Well, the lying is certainly being done now, and I understand that clergy and bishops lie for their own self-protection.  Still I'd hope for something like a plan for a grand coming-out party where all, or at least a majority, of gay and lesbian clergy and bishops come out of the closet, while, at the same time, a large majority of straight clergy stand in public support of their brothers and sisters.  What would be the response of the leadership in the church?

Of course, it's easy for me to make such a suggestion, because I risk nothing, and perhaps it's pure fantasy, but what will it take for the leaders in the Church of England to realize how foolish they appear with their decisions to pry into the intimate lives of their bishops and clergy in a discriminatory way in order to prolong the practice of inequality?

As is obvious in the broadcast, the discrimination does not appease the people who oppose the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy and the consecration of gay bishops.  Even Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the Primate of Kenya and the leader of  FoCA, weighed in, and he is not amused.

IT's graphic of CofE bishops coming out of the closet at The Friends of Jake.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Statement on same-sex marriage by English Prime Minister David Cameron:
He said he did not want gay people to be "excluded from a great institution", but would not force any groups to hold ceremonies in their places of worship. 

Ministers will reveal their response to a consultation next week. MPs will be given a free vote on the issue.
The "Church of England" responded:
It is important to be clear that insistence on the traditional understanding of marriage is not knee-jerk resistance to change but is based on a conviction that the consequences of change will not be beneficial for society as a whole. Our concern is for the way the meaning of marriage will change for everyone, gay or straight, if the proposals are enacted. Because we believe that the inherited understanding of marriage contributes a vast amount to the common good, our defence of that understanding is motivated by a concern for the good of all in society.

The proposition that same-sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute. To that extent, the Prime Minister's claim that he supports same-sex marriage from conservative principles is readily understandable.  However, the uniqueness of marriage is that it embodies the underlying, objective, distinctiveness of men and women. This distinctiveness and complementarity are seen most explicitly in the biological union of man and woman which potentially brings to the relationship the fruitfulness of procreation.

To remove from the definition of marriage this essential complementarity is to lose any social institution in which sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged. To argue that this is of no social value is to assert that men and women are simply interchangeable individuals. To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships.
We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage.

Given the absence of any manifesto commitment for these proposals - and the absence of any commitment in the most recent Queen's speech - there will need to be an overwhelming mandate from the consultation to move forward with these proposals and make them a legislative priority.

We welcome the fact that in his statement the Prime Minister has signalled he is abandoning the Government's earlier intention to distinguish between civil and religious marriage.  We look forward to studying the Government's detailed response to the consultation next week and to examining the safeguards it is proposing to give to Churches.
Except for the weak acknowledgement in the second paragraph that "same-sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues" and the references to the English Government and the Queen, the statement could have come from the Vatican.

Who wrote this anonymous press release in the name of the "Church of England"?  What minds came together to produce this rubbish?  Or was it just one person?   Judging from the people I know in the Church of England, the response most certainly does not express the mind of the entire church.  Was General Synod consulted?  Is it possible for the people in the head office of the Church of England to be more out of touch?   Many questions; no answers as of yet.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans.

UPDATE: While we're on the subject, please read Mark Harris' brilliant response to the "Church of England's" response to David Cameron's statement on same-sex marriage. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


SHE’S dark-haired and vivacious with a penchant for leather trousers, biker jackets and Louboutin heels. She listens to Radio head, reads Jane Austen and watches The West Wing. And no, we’re not talking about a starlet taking over Hollywood but a woman who is an ordained priest. Step forward the Reverend Sally Hitchiner.
Sally looks spiffy to me, quite stylish and attractive, but not everyone agrees.
The world now appears to be divided between those who are hailing 32-year-old Rev Hitchiner for being a welcome burst of fresh air and for refusing to conform to the frumpy stereotype of a priest and those who are aghast at her sartorial choices and believe she is dragging the Church of England into disrepute.
“This is the sort of spectacle traditional Anglicans feared when they allowed the ordination of women. We wouldn’t expect a policewoman to accessorise her uniform like this – nor do her hair up like she’s off to a ball. She seems too vain to hold office, which requires quiet dignity.”

"Dragging the Church of England into disrepute?"  Tut, tut, tut.  Can it be true?  Compare Sally's flashy fashions with the "quiet dignity" of the vestments of gold, jewels, and silk of Pope Benedict and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.  The contrast is striking.  Heh, heh.

The clothes Sally wears in the fashion shoot are borrowed, as she cannot afford Prada and other designer brands on a chaplain's wage.

Brave Bishop Alan Wilson jumps into the fray or goes out on a limb - choose your metaphor:
“I think Sally is both smart and sassy and that obviously causes some people problems but that’s their issue not hers.

“It’s insane and it’s something that doesn’t happen to men. I think there is institutionalised sexism in the Church of England and the only way to root it out is to name it for what it is. I admire the fact that Sally has the personal confidence to go out there and be the person she is rather than being cowed by a lot of silly old men who doubtless feel she should be something else.”
Is it just me, or does anyone else note that Alan spends a good deal of time out there on a limb?   Thank God for an Anglican bishop who breathes fresh air into the stuffy atmosphere.

Sally says:
“I’ve always been struck by the stories of Jesus going to people where they are. No group was off limits He just was himself and met people where they are,” she says.

“That’s how I’m trying to live my life.”
As for the young chaplain, along with her fashion statements and how she lives her life, she is another breath of fresh air in the church.  My words to her are, "Geaux Sally!"    

H/T to Ann Fontaine at The Lead.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Wake me when the first woman is ordained bishop in the Church of England.
Since the defeat of the motion in General Synod to allow women bishops, I have grieved along with my friends in the Church of England, especially my women friends, both clergy and laity. The vote was a slap in the face to all women, within the church and without. Although I've read pages and pages of discussion and opinions on the fix to allow women bishops, and I've even gone so far as to watch videos of English Parliament arguing the question, I have no idea how the Church of England will resolve the matter. Now I shall take a break from it all it and wait to hear the good news (soon, I hope) of a resolution and wait even longer for the announcement of the choice of the first woman bishop and for the date for her ordination to be named.

Whenever the remedy to this great injustice comes, I pray the resolution will honor the women who have faithfully served the church for so very many years.  Joy on the occasion of the acknowledgement of women as equals in the sight of God and of humanity will be tempered by the exceedingly slow and grudging process of giving assent.  In the case of women bishops, the moral arc of the universe in bending toward justice is, indeed, long.


Photo from NASA.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


One wonders if there are any three English bishops out there with the guts to get together and do what the Bishop and the Bishop Coadjutor of Aberdeen and the Bishop of Ross and Caithness did for the Episcopal Church in consecrating Samuel Seabury (our first bishop) on November 14, 1784: consecrate a woman as a bishop in England.

Probably not.

It’s hard for a leopard to change its spots. (Nigel Taber-Hamilton)
As the English already know, we are a rebellious lot here in the US, but the Church of England is no less so, having broken the yoke to the Church of Rome some hundreds of years ago.

Several of us discussed this approach to having women bishops in England on Facebook, and the conclusion for most was that it couldn't be done for various reasons. I say, "Why not?" Kudos, Nigel for your what-if.  Other suggestions may be found in the comments at Daily Episcopalian.   

The Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton is rector of St. Augustine’s in-the-Woods Episcopal Church on Whidbey Island, WA.   Nigel came to the US from England in 1979.

The painting by Peter J Morgan depicts the consecration of Bishop Samuel Seabury by three bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

UPDATE: You may want to read Lay Anglicana's post titled "Who’s Queen? – & Is She Not Also A Bishop?: John Adams".

Friday, November 23, 2012


Presiding Bishop Katharine
carries her mitre
Sometimes those outside see inside more clearly than the insiders.   From Christchurch, NZ, Bosco Peters' writes an excellent post on the defeat of the motion to allow women bishops in the Church of England. 
Obviously my bishop, being a woman, cannot function as a bishop in England. Since this week’s vote in the Church of England’s General Synod, one can no longer make polite English excuses about this being an accident of history. It is now an intentional decision.

I have a … (how can I say this on a family-friendly site?)… ummm…I have a Y chromosome and I was ordained by someone with a Y chromosome, etc. all the way back to the earliest church. I can function as a priest in all of the Church of England. Some, however, who were ordained by someone who has no Y chromosome, even though they themselves have a Y chromosome, will find some places in the CofE where they cannot so function. We are a commnon.
No, the last word in the paragraph is not a misspelling, although Firefox or some other power in charge of internet spelling says otherwise.  Bosco has coined a new word for us which is not yet accepted in the lexicon of the intertubes.  Click one of the links to read how Bosco 'splains it all.

I joke around some here (you laugh, or you cry) , but Bosco shares seriously good thoughts about what is and what is not communion and various other matters. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012



My sympathy to all my friends in the Church of England, especially to women friends and women priest friends. Whenever the next opportunity to vote on women bishops comes around, the measure must be a single clause - the Church of England will ordain women as bishops. Take it or leave it - no ifs, ands, or buts.

My dear English friends, perhaps now you can put behind you feelings of sympathy for those with  tender consciences that can be appeased only by assigning others to a lower place. You may not wish to put so crass a name on such a practice, but I call it what it is - misogyny.

Blessings and peace.

UPDATE: The Second Church Estates Commissioner Sir Tony Baldry:
There have been some suggestions in the press that it is impossible for the Church of England or General Synod to return to this issue until after a new General Synod has been elected in 2015. That is not correct: the rules prevent the same Measure from being reconsidered by the General Synod without a special procedure. It is perfectly possible for a different and amended Measure to consecrate women bishops to be considered by the General Synod. Although this is for the Church of England to resolve, as the Prime Minister made clear yesterday, I suspect that there will also be those in the Church of England who will wish to consider whether the election process to the General Synod is sufficiently representative, particularly of the laity of the Church of England, as Tuesday’s vote clearly did not reflect the overall and clear consensus of dioceses across England in support of women bishops.

It is my earnest hope that during the time I serve the Queen—whose appointment I am—this House and the Church of England as Second Church Estates Commissioner it will prove possible for me to bring before this House a Measure that will enable women to be consecrated bishops in the Church of England.
Thanks to Erp for the link.  I've heard various opinions about when a measure may be brought up again at General Synod, but Baldry's words seem to settle the matter.